New Brunswick

Acadieville man found guilty of assaulting two nurses

70-year-old Randy Van Horlick from Acadieville has been found guilty of assaulting two nurses at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in March of last year. He testified he didn’t remember assaulting the nurses but judge Yvette Finn said his testimony wasn’t believable.

Randy Van Horlick said he didn't remember assaulting two nurses, the judge didn't believe his testimony

Bruce (Randy) Van Horlick, 70, was found guilty of two counts of assault for beating up one nurse, and injuring another on March 11, 2019 at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Randy Van Horlick, 70, of Acadieville, has been found guilty of assaulting two nurses at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in March of last year. 

Van Horlick was charged with two counts of assault for beating up nurse manager Natasha Poirier and injuring nurse Teresa Thibeault when she tried to stop the attack on March of 2019.

During the trial Van Horlick said he didn't remember what happened during the assault. His lawyer Nathan Gorham argued that Van Horlick had non insane automatism, meaning his client went into a dissassociative state and wasn't aware of his actions and therefore could not be held accountable. 

"...it simply does not make sense"

But provincial court judge Yvette Finn said wading through the trial's evidence she didn't find Van Horlick's version of events to be believable.

Friends, family and fellow members of the New Brunswick Nurses Union cheer as Natasha Poirier left court. (Pierre Fourier/CBC)

"I have concluded that Mr. Van Horlick's account cannot be believed because it simply does not make sense," said the Judge.

She said Thibeault's testimony and that of another nurse, Guy Cormier, described a brutal attack that had Van Horlick showing some sense of what was happening.

"It supports the conclusion that Mr. Van Horlick was angry, but he was aware of what he was doing and at this point, did not care," said Judge Finn.

She said that the evidence lead her to belive that throughout the years of his wife's illness, Van Horlick had developed the perception that he was more knowledgeable than the doctors and nurses treating his wife.

"He was entitled to give orders that had to be followed or there would be consequences to those who did not follow his orders," she said.

The sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 16.

The crowd cheers

Outside court, Natasha Poirier declined to make a comment, but a crowd of about 30 supporters cheered as she left the building.

Natasha Poirier leaves court after Randy Van Horlick was found guilty of assaulting her while she was working as a nurse manager. Her mother said Poirier has not returned to work since. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Among them was the president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, Paula Doucet, who says it was important for her to be there, calling it a landmark case.

"Violence in the workplace and the stoppage of it has been such a huge issue for our union for a number of years. We've been advocating for so long for changes in the occupation and the health and safety act that this has become quite symbolic for us," said Doucet.

Paula Doucet is the president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union. She has attended many of Van Horlick's court appearances. (Tori Weldon)

Poirier's brother, Sebastien Poirier said the verdict comes as a relief.

"I'm just glad there's this type of closure where now my sister can actually start to heal," he said.

"She doesn't have to worry that he'll be acquitted."

He hopes the assault will come with a stiff punishment, one that acts as a deterrent from something like this happening to someone else.

About the Author

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.

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